Sept. 15, 2021
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Tomikia LeGrande, Ed.D., vice president for strategy, enrollment management and student success, has received a Governor’s Honor Award from Gov. Ralph Northam. The annual awards celebrate the accomplishments and contributions made by state employees.
LeGrande was recognized with the Champion of Change award, given to an employee who “advocates, promotes, and institutes a change” that aligns with the state agency’s or institution’s vision and “motivates employees towards elevating organizational performance,” according to the governor’s office. LeGrande is being honored for her work on VCU’s Student Financial Services Center, which opened last spring and employs a team of financial counselors who work with students on an individual basis, providing them with timely, accurate information about their finances.
In announcing the awards Wednesday afternoon, the governor’s office called the Student Financial Services Center a “novel” service that “blends financial aid, financial literacy, mentorship, and counseling in a holistic approach that supports student success.”
“Because of these efforts, VCU has outperformed other Tier III higher education peers in graduation rates of low income students,” Northam’s office wrote in a document announcing the 2021 honorees. “Additional efforts have helped to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all Virginians. Dr. LeGrande has been a strong champion of change at VCU and has strengthened the higher education landscape throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
LeGrande, who served as vice provost for strategic enrollment management at VCU from 2018-20 before being elevated to her current position last summer, spoke with VCU News last October about the importance of resources like the Student Financial Services Center. The university, she said, serves a large percentage of low-income, first-generation students, and “what you find is a group of students who have a lot of questions and need guidance for themselves and their families.”
LeGrande went on to explain the benefit of the new resource by drawing on her own story as a first-generation college student years earlier.
“I am [an example of] the students we serve because I was a low-income and first-generation [student],” she said. “I was just trying to navigate these waters by myself. My family supported me, but they didn’t know what to do to help me. What I wish I had known at 18 is that not knowing is OK. But the power is trying to find a network of people who do know, who can help you to develop your own plan based upon your circumstances, and to find strategies for success, understanding that you don’t have to do this on your own.”
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